Ottoman Physiognomy ('Ilm-I Firâset): A Window into the Soul of an Empire /

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Bibliographic Details
Author / Creator:Lelic, Emin, author.
Ann Arbor : ProQuest Dissertations & Theses, 2017
Description:1 electronic resource (341 pages)
Format: E-Resource Dissertations
Local Note:School code: 0330
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Other authors / contributors:University of Chicago. degree granting institution.
Notes:Advisors: Cornell H. Fleischer Committee members: Shahzad Bashir; Hakan Karateke; Franklin Lewis.
This item is not available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses.
Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 78-12(E), Section: A.
Summary:This dissertation operates on the basis of two propositions: first, that the beginnings of the so-called Ottoman "decline" at the end of the sixteenth century initiated a process of soul-searching or Innenwendung amongst the imperial elite, both on an individual level as well as on a collective level; second, that the science of physiognomy ('ilm-i firâset) was far more integral to such a turn than has been recognized. The physiognomical method of discerning inner character based on outward appearance was the perfect modus operandi for this great Innenwendung. The expansion of the Ottoman frontier had come to a halt during the second half of the sixteenth century, provoking fears of decline and forcing the empire's elite to adjust to this enormous shift by re-evaluating the very purpose of the Ottoman enterprise. Physiognomy answered this call, appropriating earlier Arabic and Persian texts to give a rigorous theoretical underpinning to ideas of Ottoman hierarchy and rule.
Part I of the dissertation, "Physiognomy in Context," introduces physiognomy, its roots and definitions, parts of its corpus and those who produced it, and its place at the nexus of sixteenth century Ottoman thought. Following an overview of Ottoman definitions of physiognomy in chapter 1, and a historical overview of physiognomy's roots in Antiquity and the major Greek physiognomy treatises in chapter 2, chapter 3 examines a Persian physiognomy treatise and its historical and intellectual context. Chapter 4 traces the process in which an essentially pre-Islamic, Greek science was Islamicized. Chapter 5 presents Ottoman and non-Ottoman thoughts and evaluations of Ottoman physiognomy during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, while chapter 6 situates physiognomy within the larger intellectual context that dominated Ottoman socio-political thought in the sixteenth century.
Part II: "Physiognomy: A Path to Self-Awareness," focuses on self-physiognomation as a method for self-knowledge and spiritual transformation. Chapter 7 raises the question of the very possibility of transforming inner character and reconstructs contemporary Ottoman debates on the subject. Chapter 8 examines references to self-physiognomation, as a path to self-knowledge and betterment of character, within the Ottoman physiognomical corpus and reconstructs the proposed mechanisms for such a transformation. Following an analysis of physiognomy's transformative role in Ibn Sînâ's parable of Hayy ibn Yaqzân (Alive, Son of Awake) in chapter 9, and the hierarchy of souls proposed in the Ottoman physiognomical corpus in chapter 10, chapter 11 reconstructs the physiognomical gaze and chapter 12 brings Part II to a close with an imaginary exercise in self-physiognomation based on an Ottoman physiognomy treatise.
Part III: "An Ottoman Typology," develops the idea that, in response to the challenge of a wildly heterogeneous population that was adjusting to the limitation on resources following the end of massive expansion through conquest, physiognomy arose as a method of social organization, classifying modes of appearance and behavior that were used prescriptively to identify and arrange social relations in conformity with constructed notions of justice. It categorized the imperial populace into types, each of which was fitted by a natural proclivity for a particular function, which the physiognomical gaze could always recognize. Chapter 13 lays out the typology constructed in the physiognomy treatises and contextualizes it within the larger Ottoman Weltanschauung. Humoral or temperament theory, the basis for a large part of the physiognomical typology, is examined in chapter 14, followed by a comparison of the physiognomical typology with contemporary notions of justice and the Circle of Equity in chapter 15. Chapter 16 is a study of physiognomy's prescriptions for the Ottoman warrior type, the Man of the Sword.